Hunter Wade found that regurgitation may hinder his cross country performance … or not. Still, he was immensely proud having survived his first cross country race.

Just days after surgery to remove wisdom teeth, the senior, who is a novice to the sport of cross country, raced in his first Idaho competition. Hunter left some uh, forensic evidence shall we say, along the 5 kilometer Kelley Park course. Hunter has been resilient in absorbing as much knowledge as he can about his new endeavor. As 3 weeks of training has only confirmed for Hunter: 1) Races at altitude are a celebration for Teton harriers. 2) Cross is so much more than just running. 3) And there is a bond formed when the challenge is shared.

To the first point, how does altitude affect performance of endurance runners? The muscles need oxygen to work if that work lasts more than about 5 seconds. This oxygen-fueled effort is called “aerobic” referring to a mash of Greek words meaning ‘needing air to live.’

Because air at higher elevations is less dense than air at lower elevations, harriers, or cross country runners, effectively take in fewer oxygen molecules with each full breathe and the muscles of the endurance athlete stress the heart and lungs to work harder to distribute oxygen to the muscles.

Teton School District boasts the highest elevation public schools in the state of Idaho. The high school is at about 6125’.

Trivia question: What high school is the second highest in the state? The answer will be revealed in this report.

Our harriers have been training for three weeks at altitudes at or above 6000 feet which has forced their bodies to adapt an efficient oxygen delivery system. One particularly intense session of hill work was accomplished at Targhee where the base elevation is about 8000’. Our harriers may not look fondly on the hot and dry conditions characteristic of lower elevations but they shine when a race is held at altitude.

In their first week of competition, the Scout Mountain Race high above Pocatello, baked our athletes at 85 degrees but on hills that crested at a lower elevation than the Teton River. This week’s trip to Soda Springs for the Cardinal Classic features “Heartbreak Hill” which crests at about the elevation of the Victor Post Office. The heat was not as fierce as the previous meet and our runners seemed to flourish in the challenge.

Teton’s second man, Lance Safiran reported feeling strong on Heartbreak Hill.

“I ran up Heartbreak really good and the downhills, too.”

Hunter Wade ran strong to the top of Heartbreak. After their preparation, everyone on the team was strong up Heartbreak.

In the words of Coach Moosman, “Heartbreak was easy; it was just easy.”

Freshman, Jenna Letham and senior, Olivia Schnell moved lightly on the 250 meter rocky grade. Olivia articulated the carryover from running a strong section of a race, “I stayed with Jenna [Letham] for the first 800 [meters] and I realized I could stay with her the rest of the way.”

In the JV race, Mackenzie Lee, Brooklyn Godfrey and Falena Hertz raced fast enough to exceed their goals and earn positions among their team’s top seven.

The Woiwode brothers, CG and John danced up Heartbreak to accomplish the same goal among the men’s top seven. Gavin Behrens and Ty Terry matched strides through the entire race, driving each other to strong performances. Almost all veterans ran course PRs--their best times, personal records, on the Soda Springs course. Gavin and CG went a stride beyond to land 5k PRs, or their best time ever on any 5k.

Cameron Edwards enunciated the idea of teamwork in a sport often seen as very individual. “It’s a much easier race if you’re with someone.... Ben [Adams] was right next to me the entire time and it felt amazing. We were going off of each other. I think that helped Ben a lot, too.”

Jack Dobbs surprised himself with how strong he felt through the entire length of the course. Teton’s top man this week attributed his success to his summer miles which included two peaks over 10,000 feet and 70 miles of trail running in Montana in early July. “I ran really consistently. I implemented all my skills,” he enthused.

Coach Moosman spoke glowingly of two mid-pack vets “ James [Allen] and Finn [Adams] were the heart of that men’s pack that came across at 800 meters.... They do everything to make it so the pack succeeds as well.”

Sara Bagley led the women’s team with a time equalling her performance at the district championship in late October last year. “Sara runs with the maturity of a senior.” stated Coach Kaufman.

Liza Marcum, a solid candidate for most improved over last year missed her bid at the top 7 by a quarter of a second. This outcome might sting in some other endeavor but in cross, a teammate’s advance is a shared victory. Falena Hertz’s success has been a huge confidence booster for this young lady who, last year, walked up hills that were 1 tenth the size of Heartbreak. Falena’s strength was largely attributable to Liza calling Falena forward through most of the race. It’s a win for both these athletes and their whole team triumphs through the realization.

Addy Hansen was off the sidelines and in the mix again after an injury held her out of last week’s race. Macey Roberts ran a time comparable to late September in previous seasons. Lindsay Simmons beamed when she pointed out to me that she had accomplished her goal for the week, putting emotion aside to focus on her race.

Amelia Wilson, one of 3 returning harriers who raced at the state championship last year, deployed her trademark long acceleration to the finish when she was more than a quarter mile out.

Next week, Teton will make an annual pilgrimage to Freeman Park in Idaho Falls for the Tiger Griz Meet, another huge tournament, albeit at 4700’. Fans are invited to make the drive to support our local endurance runners. High school races begin at 3 and middle school races start at 5:30.

Hearts will pound on the many grassy hills and legs will strain to keep strides sustained through the uphill finish. The trivia answer? Soda Springs is Idaho’s second highest school district.

Cardinal Classic, Soda Springs, Sat. 9-7

Times for Teton Harriers--Women: Sara Bagley, soph 21:47, Mackenzie Lee, jr 24:01, Jenna Letham, fr 24:54, Olivia Schnell, sr 25:14, Amelia Wilson, sr 25:36, Brooklyn Godfrey, fr 26:34, Falena Hertz, soph 29:49, Liza Marcum, soph 29:49, Ripley Schultz, sr 31:31, Macey Roberts, sr 33:36, Addy Hansen, fr 34:29, Lindsay Simmons, fr 41:46

--Men: Jack Dobbs, sr 18:58, Lance Safiran, jr 19:02, James Allen, jr 19:51, CG Woiwode, soph 19:54, Finn Adams, sr 20:13, John Woiwode, jr 20:26, Noah Machen, soph 20:28, Brennen Bates, jr 20:32, Sam Machen, fr 20:43, Gavin Behrens, jr 21:12, Ty Terry, fr 21:13, Ben Adams, soph 22:07, Cameron Edwards, soph 22:09, Porter Collins, fr 24:27, Oliver McKellar, fr 25:59, Jacob Allen, fr 25:59, Hunter Wade, sr 28:35

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